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The Forum Posts

Man-Made Earthquakes ?! What & How on BBCRadio4

Fellow readers – I stumbled across this rather daunting piece of information while looking for a possible man-made disaster for an upcoming ‘Climate Mitigation Game’ that is currently in the early formation phases. I continue to be hocked by the size, scale and scope of human and human made climate change or disasters we collectively are responsible for.

This is worth listening to in its entirety – Man-made Earthquakes are rarely explained but here they are and it is done so very concisely in this BBC Radio 4 snippet.

 

Horror stories from mining that upset the balance of the earths crust, to damns in China causing magnitude 8 quakes. This just further emphasizes how much of an impact we as human are having on earth.

While I have your attention  – Crowdleaf’s store is doing Black Friday & Cyber Monday a bit differently (would you expect anything else) were offering 10% discount between the 24th and 27th of March by using the code Green&Clean10 .

 







SDG´s 12+14= the panoptic for plastic waste by @MarIntroini

Arch2O-Whilwind-01

When Foucault creates the concept of a panoptic for the criminal system he didn’t realized its real potential and that it could be applied for other areas in which there is danger for our societies, in this case for our oceans.

If there were a constant surveillance and a rational and responsible consumption maybe plastics would not represent a threat, however under current circumstances without a proper waste management and recycling process it becomes a real challenge.

Millions of plastic bottles finish in the ocean, which means that there is a terrible lack of awareness from individuals that goes beyond the own negative impact in the environment. Is an endemic problem that starts with indifference and misbehaving and end on lack of Education. Indeed, about 8m tones of plastic waste end up in the oceans every year, more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic float in the world’s oceans, breaking into smaller pieces*.

U.N. goals 12+ 14 may be the clue for addressing this relentless path towards contamination; Responsible Consumption and Production and Life below waterare the two main goals to search for resilience in terms of plastic waste management and preservation of oceans. But how could we plan our response effectively?

Is estimated that by 2050 it will be more plastic than fish in the oceans, coincidentally by the same year, there is another forecast establishing that the entire SDG´s will not be achieved. Which is the real burden? Lack of information seems to be the answer, at least right now. Sadly instead of being focused on strategic planning we are still delivering basic info.

 But let´s be positive and focusing in those actions that are succeeding and delivering solutions in the short-term: Projects Faro 360 in Kaolack, Senegal a “waste tolerance” city exposure the fact that individual action + innovation makes possible a recycling process of plastics and minds.

Commitment from corporations: the road ahead. Changing cultural business codes is the clue and could only be achieved working on the following roads:

1) Cleaning –literally- oceans from plastic waste

2) Innovative forms of packaging

3) Education process at all levels to get commitment from the people: responsible consumption and waste management.

In the end Education becomes another key element and a sort kind of “panoptic” from which we could control corporation’s work, public policies and individual action.

Control, supervision, regulation, etc., a close look to SDG´s and their ambitious targets make us conclude that without pressure there is no results. We need to build new innovative structures through raise awareness and strong legislation based on creativity and capacity to influence people effectively. It is proven that information is currently the main challenge, a fact that transforms any effort for success useful if there is not a solid political will to address it.

Financial aspects seems to be a controversial point; SDG´s supposes an investment of 5 to 7 trillions and even if the world has never been wealthier as now is it also true that there are big troubles in terms of distribution. It´s important to highlight that this is not an ideological matter, the equal distribution is much more than a political position but a reality that is driven the world into stagnation. If there are still countries submitted into poverty means the total failure of a goal on sustainability There is not a possibility to get to successful goals if parts of the planet are still under basic standards for accessing to clean water or safe environments, that is so that the “plastic issue” become and universal issue and also an universal responsibility.

 

Tolerance 0 to plastic waste! 12 + 14= sustainable oceans.







10th year of the pioneering SuperHomes Open Days

This year marks the 10th year of SuperHomes, the innovative and multi-award winning national network of over 200 homes which have all reduced their carbon footprint by a minimum of 60%. SuperHome owners will open their doors this September as part of our Open House events, and there is a record 100 free events occurring this year across the UK. 

SuperHomes is a project managed by the National Energy Foundation, an independent charity that aims to reduce the use of energy in buildings.
The Open Days are a great opportunity for visitors to see for themselves both the challenges and benefits associated with making older homes more energy efficient, and view retrofit technologies in action. The free Open House events occur every September where the SuperHome owners provide honest and detailed accounts of their renovation stories and offer invaluable advice and guidance.
Since 2007 SuperHomes has been at the forefront of domestic eco-retrofit and the network continues to lead the way in carbon conscious renovation. To date, 222 homeowners have all transformed their properties through environmentally minded renovation resulting in lower energy bills, smaller carbon footprints and a huge increase in comfort levels.
SuperHomes include all types of houses, ranging from Grade II listed 16th Century ironstone properties to 1990’s build ex-council houses; from 6 bed Victorian mansions to 1940 terraces; from idyllic ecolodge retreats in rural Snowdonia to single story flats in the heart of London.

The technology found within and around the properties is innovative and market leading, and our SuperHomes offer exceptional, and often unique, examples of green technologies.

In addition to the more mature aspects of green renovation such as external wall insulation, solar PV panels and heat pumps, our houses boast a variety of cutting edge technologies such as Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery (MVHR) systems, green roofs, biomass boilers, and even whole house airtight membranes.

SuperHomes are pioneers in renewable technology and energy efficiency.






We have a number of SuperHomes opening for the first time this year. This includes our most recent addition Pamela whose 1920s ex-Council house in North London is carbon neutral! She achieved this by installing many technologies, including Solar Water Heating, Solar PV Panels and Mechanical Ventilation Heat Recovery. Visit Pamela on 16th/17th September on a free tour. Another interesting first time opener is Paul from Flintshire who retrofitted his 1960s home for under £10,000, and still managed to achieve a carbon saving of 64%! Visit Paul for a tour on the 9th September to learn about how to keep eco-retrofit affordable. To find an Open Day near you please visit http://www.superhomes.org.uk/get-inspired/events/.

Energy used in the home accounts for more than a quarter of total energy use and carbon emissions in the UK. Houses in the UK are some of the least energy efficient in Europe, and the majority of the housing stock is made up of older homes which are typically very energy inefficient. Without tackling this problem and improving the energy efficiency of homes we will not be able to meet our emissions target of an 80% cut in emissions by 2050 to meet the requirements of the legally binding Climate Change Act. Open House events like SuperHomes are great ways to distribute knowledge and passion about retrofit, and persuade people to take the carbon conscious decision to reduce energy use in their home.

The current, post-Green Deal (the Coalition Government’s flagship energy efficiency policy that was scrapped in 2015), climate, with lowered green incentives and a distinct lack of interest from subsequent governments has seen the focus on eco-retrofit waver. Yet the refurbishment of our homes and buildings is one of the greatest challenges we face to reducing carbon emissions and tackling climate change. SuperHomes harnesses the enthusiasm of our energy saving pioneers to stimulate community-led renovation.
SuperHome Open Days occur throughout the year with a co-ordinated national event throughout September. Most of our openings coincide with Heritage Open Days (7-10th September) and London Open House (16/17th September). To find out more visit www.superhomes.org.uk
To help SuperHomes celebrate this anniversary we’ve partnered with the Ecology Building Society who are supporting this year’s September openings.

SuperHome owner #59, Mark Brown stands in front of his 1980’s detached house. The High Wycombe property has achieved 90% carbon savings. Visit on 9th/10th September.

The Wave of Plastic Pollution is a problem – @AdamManning of @GreenHampshire & @rwscarter of @CrowdLeaf

Plastic in our natural environment has become an urgent issue that our society needs to address and Ryan recently focused on this in his once a month CrowdLeaf radio slot with Xan Phillips on VoiceFM 103.9. (This is on from 8pm on the first Thursday of the month.) Plastic in the form of nurdles and plastic products are a serious problem for marine life, beach life and for the food system.
Many people who believe they are being as good to the environment as they can be do not knowingly pollute the seas with plastic or other products. However, plastic fibres from polyester and acrylic clothing are polluting the seas on an industrial scale. One 6kg wash produces 140,000 fibres from polyester-cotton blend, half a million polyester fibres and nearly 3/4 of a million acrylic fibres.
If each and every house is doing this just once a week that is an awfully large quantity and the rate at which people throw away clothes is pandemic. It is worse to throw these away than it is to wash them and the onus should be on the producers of such items to change the material to stop the pollution at source.
There are alternatives that companies can and should be looking at such as natural products, lyocell made from trees, leather made from Pineapple and more… and we as consumers need to demand these.

One important way forward is to take advantage of producers who are using alternative products to traditional plastics.
These scary numbers are just the beginning. Micro fibres from soaps, body wash and cosmetic products are also washing down our drains into the seas. Recently a plastic soup of millions of pieces of plastic was discovered in our oceans. Earlier this year, 38 million pieces of plastic were found on Henderson Island. What is this doing to our natural habitats? Our animal welfare laws wouldn’t allow this for pets but for wildlife, sadly we have different standards.

The problem of plastic pollution often becomes clear during the course of a litter pick. Litter picking as a form of environmental activism has grown markedly in popularity in recent years. Individuals are taking the initiative to clear up rubbish, as are groups of many different sizes. This includes volunteer groups who look after particular areas, such as Friends of Weston Shore, larger and more established organisations such as the Keep Britain Tidy or the Marine Conservation Society and now new, online initiatives, such as #2minutebeachclean and Litterati.

Keen litter pickers will spend a lot of time picking up plastic items in an event of this sort. Their work is vital in clearing up our natural environment as plastic will, if not removed, last effectively forever.
At a larger scale than plastic fibres, this includes plastic bottles, for water or soft drinks. As well as spoiling the natural beauty of an area, they can be a danger to wildlife. Mice and shrews can climb into them, perhaps spotting a mouthful of water to drink inside, and then be unable to climb up out again, leaving them trapped. Other animals, similarly looking for a drink, can trap their snouts or beaks in a plastic bottle, making them unable to shake them off.

Plastic ring binders are another serious problem. These are the loops of plastic that are typically used to keep groups of four or six beer cans together. They can snare both land living animals like foxes, birds and even snakes but also, if they are caught by the tide, turtles, dolphins and other sea life. There is a famous case of a young turtle entwined in a twisted six pack ring whose body deformed as it grew, until its body ultimately became a figure of eight, the ring still stuck around its unnaturally narrow waist. If they are not removed from the environment, they pose a danger to wildlife.

Cotton buds are another persistent problem. These small lengths of plastic tubing are all over our beaches, washed up by the tide. People use cotton buds to clean their ears and noses or for arts and crafts, household cleaning and other uses round the house. It seems that after they have been used, some people throw them down the toilet to dispose of them. The cotton buds then go through our sewage system, which is not designed for such products. Later, they are flushed out to sea only to ultimately end up washed up on our shores, without the fluffy cotton bits at either end, which will have disintegrated in the sewage system. Surveys by the Marine Conservation Society indicate that 60% of sewage related beach litter is from cotton buds. Just don’t throw them down the toilet!

Nurdles are another form of plastic pollution, especially on our beaches. These are tiny beads of plastic, about the size of lentils, used in the creation of plastic products. They end up in our natural areas, including our shores, from spills or accidents while they are being shipped from place to place in the production process. Nurdles, like the plastic fibres we are learning about, represent a serious pollution problem, both in the water and on land. They attract and concentrate other pollutants to them. Like all plastic, they can fragment and breakdown into smaller pieces, becoming harder to handle and remove. Animals of all sorts can mistake nurdles for food like fish eggs or seeds, especially in the water, and this can make them sick or kill them.

Part of the problem with nurdles in our natural environment is that their small size makes them difficult to remove. An average litter picker will be unable to pick them up. Chesil Bay in Southampton, a beautiful part of the shore in the city, has a particular nurdle pollution problem. In some patches this is so bad, there seems to be more nurdles than soil.

Nurdles and other plastic debris often ends up in being deposited in natural areas because human created parts of the environment, such as sea walls, docks or piers are hard surfaces. When the plastic debris comes into contact with these, the nurdles, cotton buds and so forth, are deflected away. As a result, when they come to rest in a natural area, this will be where they stay. So, nurdles and other plastic debris tend to build up on a natural area of shoreline.

There is an urgent need to take action at each stage of the plastic production process so that our natural environment is not ruined in the way that has been building up for years.






For Green innovation we need Green Education by @ MarIntroini

That´s the challenge and the greatest revolution: being educated around a Green culture able to develop strong skills and become sustainable individual and collectively.

Once again Education become the powerful pillar for building new structures. A no reliable political system and global institutions that progressively are loosing capacity of influence transform Education in the only source for new initiatives.

Work towards a sustainable world that face climate change with determination is not a matter of “recycling” or “reducing energy consumption” but of educating generations around the concept of being green. That supposes more than specific actions but entire systems around a green culture. Is not happening.

Green Education is not about educating people around green issues but to boost green professionals. Architects, engineers, activists are all professions directly linked with the environment, however a resilient world could only be built by a deeper action. Lawyers, politicians, teachers are also paramount for creating frameworks and spaces of green action and reflection; because a green education is also about “construction “ of creative minds that from any field of work could achieve a goal of innovation and adaptation.

Simply… make a real revolution in our Education systems.

A world hit by crisis and a population no prepared to change the system don´t lead to redirected the society into a “resilient focus”. It is here that Education plays that fundamental role to create enough defenses against uncertainties. A pillar through which the rest of the reforms could be addressed from a stronger position.

The question is: are we educating to boost professionals able to innovate? or are we delivering traditional education systems with additional updates on technology? There is a big difference and current systems do not seems to see it, leaving innovation only for creative people that develop a particular skill over a particular green project. Innovation is normally seen as a consequence of Education, but it should be the educational system that prepares professionals to work and live in a world of uncertainty that is demanding a permanent state of Innovation.

Education and Innovation feed each other, we need to educate on how innovate and we need also to Innovate on how we educate. Creating professionals able to adapt to any kind of work to face new challenges.
To be prepared for a new dimension we need to build globally although from an individual basis in which a Green Education delivers the platform to boost the workforce that goes beyond current parameters.
It is not just about innovating educational systems but to reshape current system accordingly to the new challenges. It is also a matter of transforming patterns of learning by maximizing creativity and preparing to innovate in all disciplines. The holistic approach that we are referring needs innovation at all levels and not just reserved for “skillful and creative minds”

In current process of awareness of the need to build a Green culture it becomes essential to prepare individuals to be innovators in all professions for facing uncertainties and build resilient societies. The more educated we are, the more prepared we´ll be to search for innovative solutions that face adaptation challenges with strength and determination.

 

Mar Introini

Blogger/Analyst Political-Economy thesustainabilityreader.com







How to Start a Sustainability Movement in Your Organization: Part 3 Scale by Wendy Firlotte @EngageIntl

The Challenge: Since the path to sustainability is rooted in local context, creating an overarching corporate program that is also relevant to numerous departments and locations may seem counter-intuitive. How do we create an overarching corporate sustainability program that is relevant to every employee and is implementable across an entire organization, especially those with diverse departments, services and geographic locations? How could we implement programming that would be relevant to office, laboratory, retail and field-based settings or perhaps in operations located in New York City, New Delhi and in a small rural town in northern Canada?

Another key consideration when we are thinking through the scope of corporate vs. local, is that the reverse also needs to be considered. How does the program engage employees to directly understand their impact locally on organizational performance? For example, would employees be able to read a sustainability report and relate their everyday actions to the outcomes that the organization reports on? Do employees feel that their daily actions make a difference toward organizational goals?

An Effective Approach: “Strategic Flexibility”: I encourage an approach that I like to call “Strategic Flexibility”. This approach is about finding an effective balance with aligned action between corporate level targets and locally organized events and activities.

What does this mean in action? Companies focus program efforts on their overarching sustainability targets, but provide local autonomy by working with all locations to plan how they will meet the company targets in a way that is relevant to their specific context.

Strategic flexibility is where the “top down” big picture planning, meets the “bottom up” operational insights and practicality. Each approach has advantages, but reliance on only one restricts the potential effectiveness and success of your strategic goals. It combines the strategic alignment of efforts with the business vision, while leveraging local experience, operational knowledge and momentum of existing initiatives. Creating efforts that are strategically flexible builds trust, commitment, enthusiasm, buy-in at every level, and company resilience by creating the space to be responsive to internal and external influences.

How it Works: Whether your program focuses on individuals or teams, create an overarching framework around your organization’s sustainability targets that is clear and relatable to your sustainability reporting. Using the focused framework you have created for guidance, allow local offices to develop their own plans to address each target. Local offices may or may not be implementing the same activities, but they will all be working towards overarching sustainability targets.

Some key elements for implementation:

Local Planning – Encourage the development of a local sustainability plan by involving the entire office/location. Sustainability/Green Teams often only look within their limited group for ideas, champions and resources. Developing a local sustainability plan by involving all employees will open up avenues for participation, discussion, ideas, solutions, collaboration and resources.

Encourage involvement in the process by providing various approaches that appeal to employees’ interests and time commitments. This is an amazing opportunity to build on the momentum of existing local activities, previous success and identify local champions. When it’s time to prioritize and decide on action plans, create space for productive discussion; for example host solution lunches, where you can bring into the fold anyone interested in a specific issue or initiative by discussing solutions to a particular challenge.

Local Support – This sort of “bottom coming up to meet top” approach will be a new concept to many people, so providing ongoing support for planning and implementation for local offices is important and necessary. Having a strong support network for them to move forward will be key. In addition to corporate assistance, creating a community support network of local champions/mentors is also effective.

Networking and Knowledge Sharing – Providing an avenue for discussion, sharing ideas, success stories and advice on lessons learned is an effective way to make offices feel supported and ultimately more successful. Learning from each other and feeling connected as a community working toward a common goal greatly increases enthusiasm and momentum.

Want to learn more?

Watch for the next installment of our 6-part “Start a Sustainability Movement in Your Organization: Part 4 – How to Systemize “ series. We will focus on how to systemize your program, no matter the size, function or structure of your organization or program.

Start a Sustainability Movement Series:

· Part 1: Steps to follow

· Part 2: Building buy-in at every level

· Part 3: How to scale

· Part 4: How to systemize

· Part 5: All in for sustainability

· Part 6: Fostering culture & embedding sustainability

Connect with Wendy om the links below.

Twitter: @EngageIntl https://twitter.com/EngageIntl

LinkedIn: Wendy Firlotte https://uk.linkedin.com/in/wendyfirlotte

Wendy is a Corporate Sustainability Employee Engagement Strategist. She specializes in translating high-level strategy and purpose into aligned and embedded employee action.







#Green issues are also a diplomacy issue: towards a #Green #Global #Diplomacy… by @MarIntroini

The digital sculpture “Mother morning” shows the hidden treasure of climate change action: the strength of diplomacy. A pillar that is within activists, environmental organizations and leaders however, is not being used in its full potential and there is not a consolidated green diplomacy. Traditional channels of diplomacy are not enough and even COP21 shows that its possible we urgently need to rebuild a diplomatic sense of global green joint action.



Green issues needs “power of influence” that takes shape with a solid structure around diplomacy. Commitment from civil society is important but could easily be transformed in a useless resource if is not focused in a strategy encompassing global leaders and institutions.

Under current crisis of leadership and institutions particularly at global level, is very difficult to build a sphere of influence. Global institutions are not reliable to assure the sustainability of green initiatives and work as a defense against financial private interests. Current trend from US of destroying a “green vision” are making universal attempts very challenging for building a green diplomacy. The threat to abandon COP21 is a tangible expression of its boycott.

Is it clear that a weak leadership leads to a diplomacy failure hence reducing the levels of influence below minimum standards. Making of the political stage the only way-out to achieve results. For getting to a green culture is paramount to build around several pillars do not just rely on politics. That’s one of the main factors to support the development of a “green diplomacy” as there is not a tangible link private-civil-society-financial world-politicians and citizens interests. There are common interests but not a good and strong diplomacy able to link all this pillars around a common goal. Is it so, that political decisions like climate change denier Donald Trump are more harmful that ever and it looks closer to a dictatorship decision rather to a democratic elected leader. Erasing past ideological Administration focus constitutes a different nature from denial what the majority of the citizens are demanding. Indeed, 7 of 10 Americans want to emphasize alternative energy (not oil, gas and coal). That means democracy. There is no room for debate when there are authoritarian political decisions that undermine citizenship majority will.

If the argumentation is that there are also financial interests around clean energies there is also better and worse interests around remain in the same stage of contamination that is killing the planet. Scientifically and by common sense climate change devastating impact is being proven along the last 50 years.

Becoming sustainable shouldn’t remain just a political decision above citizenship´s interests. Mass ignorance and short termism is not an excuse for not proceeding. Even with a different focus but without erasing all green strategies without giving an alternative model for current climate threats.

In a surprisingly political momentum of climate change denial, an intense work of influence becomes paramount to overcome this overwhelming tendency to destroy global initiatives and it is the development of a global green diplomacy that could rescue us from this chaotic and threatening momentum for climate change action.

The only way to become resilient is to gather together around a global green diplomacy more than a green agreement. In which, leaders, institutions and civil societies participate in a permanent basis of joint action and a structure –not necessary formal- in which commitment with green becomes influence. Green political parties are a good expression of this attempt, although it needs to move one step further and become real experts in diplomacy to become real influencers. Building a global diplomacy on green issues from the election of strong and trained leaders able to be resilient by themselves towards a system that tends to absorb them.

Global green diplomacy: a new challenging ground that needs to give birth to a new generation of leaders able to grow strongly and steady to reshape global institutions and growth towards a new recycled life.







Architecture as a tool for building resilient cities by @MarIntroini

Being resilient means face uncertainty with pillars that guarantee stability and capacity to response to the “new”. This is how new realities forces to reshape a world in which infrastructure and services become flexible and versatile. Migration crisis or climate change pushes us to rethink a world in which urban spaces are designed for new-revolutionary standards of living.

Half of humanity, around 3.5 billion of people lives in cities today. By 2030, almost 60% of the world’s population will live in urban areas which represents a strong reason for building cities that welcome this overwhelming number of people and their demands in a threaten environment.




Even if there is a political global commitment to achieve Goal 11 of the SDG´s: “Make cities and human resettlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable” is important to raise awareness and build new parameters at local level that mark the road for the next decade in a determinate and ambitious way. In the context of current “broken” world of weak commitment to global standards there is much more challenge and the search for stronger tools become paramount.

Architecture has become that tool, the relief that the world is awaiting. With innovation and creativity is showing its capacity to reinvent itself and construct the unimaginable. Rooftop gardens, urban farming, self-energy efficient houses, office-building with an integrated farm, are just examples of the impressive changes that architecture could make in societies. Is it not just a matter of changing design of construction styles but also a new way of living, above all producing a feeling. The emotional element that determinate the need for achieving results from a different perspective. In which multicultural spaces boost a mentality and a culture around tolerance and inclusiveness. The Pavilion in Vojvodina, northern Serbia* it’s a good model of this new trend that is helping to boost a new innovative concept that –in this case- assures freedom of religion. The acceptance of a “melting pot” of religions becomes also a matter of “architecture design”.

Globalization has brought more movement of people and also new demands for clean and healthy standards of living in which the cultural aspect cannot be missed. People move through public patterns of behavior and the sense of being part of a general consensus. Despite confrontation there is an important element of “being part of…” that allow them to be in one position or another. Is with this spirit that cities has contributed greatly to create multicultural societies. “Being part of….” is not a matter of local perspective but of the creation of open and inclusive spaces. The boost of globalization comes from the free movement of people –please do not confuse it with massive flow or refugees- that transform societies in a different and better place. Indeed, little towns that keep traditions intact are inclined to disappear as it doesn´t deliver the needed standards that fit in current world. Precisely migration has brought this element of merger of traditions and birth of a new layered of societies. That is the reason of being a value added for the growth of cities, therefore societies.

The complementary work of architecture and urban planning are key elements to achieve these new and ambitious standards. A green way of living means a smart urban planning and architecture enough flexible and versatile that gives room to a new philosophy of living.

Concrete, wood, timber, natural materials and a smart mind to be creative and innovative enough to build cities able to welcome all nature of people and “knit” new habits to protect the environment and adapt to current and future crises.

“Whatever you do, promise me that every project you make or design, you´ll take the risk of doing something for humanity”. Frank Ghery. Indeed, whatever is done should be focused on a creative and innovative architecture that helps to boost pillars around adaptation and an urban planning, ambitious enough to boost a resilient society.

Mar Introini

Blogger/Analyst Political-Economy thesustainabilityreader.com




​‘Leaving the #environment in a better state’- or just a state?: the impact of #Brexit by Anneliese Dodds MEP




We here at CrowdLeaf.org.uk are humbled to be sharing another guest piece, this time from a European level decision maker. As a South East MEP she offers an insider’s perspective on both the problems and solutions for the Environment. All views are that of Anneliese Dodds not CrowdLeaf as an entity.
It is no secret that the vast majority of environmentalists supported remaining in the European Union. Nonetheless, those of us who accept the result of the referendum have to somehow ensure that the UK Government now delivers on the aspirations of those who voted to Leave, without completely ignoring the concerns of those who wanted to stay. 




Last week we finally got an indication of the Government’s negotiating priorities, and it is fair to say that environmental issues received relatively little consideration, with only one paragraph out of 77 pages being devoted to them aside from brief passing references. This differs from the Welsh government’s explicit call for both working and environmental standards from the EU to be retained as part of any post-Brexit settlement.

Instead, the UK Government stated that while it would ‘use the Great Repeal Bill to bring the current framework of environmental regulation into UK and devolved law’, this would be followed by the development over time of a ‘comprehensive approach to improving our environment in a way that is fit for our specific needs’- suggesting an (albeit gradual) shift away from current EU standards. 

In this article I will try and sketch out some of the directions that this new approach could take, in the fields of water and air quality, waste management, climate change, green growth and protection of biodiversity.

Although the UK has arguably led the way in some areas of environmental policy, this is certainly not the case when it comes to water and air quality. Indeed, even when covered by EU legislation the UK government has been taken to task by the European Court of Justice for failing to meet standards in both areas. For example, Britain has, last month, been sent a final warning to comply with EU air pollution limits for nitrogen dioxide or it will face a case at the European Court of Justice.  £100m to rectify problems with waste water management in Hampshire was provided by the European Investment Bank to Southern Water, and it is unclear whether the UK will be able to remain a member of the Bank in the future and whether this low-interest source of finance will therefore be available.  

In addition, the existence of EU law has been an important tool to affect the behaviour of the private sector. Hence, the need to meet EU objectives on water quality enabled Ofwat to pressure water companies to invest in projects like the London super sewer. It may prove more difficult to exercise this kind of pressure in the future. When it comes to air quality, while there are UN rules on emissions, specific and enforceable national emissions ceilings (which, incidentally, the UK government recently lobbied to water down), determined at EU level, will no longer apply to us. 

It is therefore difficult to identify areas where Brexit could enable a scaling-up of action to improve environmental quality. The fact that the UK would no longer be expected to follow the Polluter Pays principle could mean that polluters could, in theory, once more be compensated for measures they introduce to reduce pollution (just as farmers once were for producing nitrates), but such measures may not be politically or pragmatically feasible, nor desirable. 

On waste management, the picture is a complex one. Clearly EU landfill rules facilitated measures to promote recycling which would otherwise have been unlikely in the face of sometimes vociferous initial opposition. On the other hand, many rules concerning the recycling of specific products may still have to be complied with by British manufacturers if they wish to still access EU markets (whether or not we are in the single market), such as those contained within the revised Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, and also pertaining to vehicles and their emissions, and to chemicals. 

The UK government states in the White Paper its commitment to continue to exercise a leading role in combating climate change, but it is difficult to see how this will be achieved in current circumstances. Generally the UK has, over time, pushed a stricter approach to reducing carbon emissions in the EU than many countries would otherwise have supported, not least the Visegrad countries. As a result, the removal of the UK from the EU may reduce the determination of the largest trading bloc in the world to push measures against climate change- needed now more than ever given the hostile approach of the new US administration. At the same time, the UK’s unwillingness to countenance EU measures promoting specific national targets (such as on the percentage of energy produced by renewable sources) may unblock action in this area. Conversely, the removal of the EU’s second biggest contributor may negatively impact on the funding gap in energy infrastructure, leading to more polluting energy production being retained across the EU than would otherwise have been the case. Other issues are currently open for debate, such as whether or not the UK will continue to participate in the Emissions Trading Scheme. 

The impact on biodiversity can be split into that on land-based and marine wildlife and fauna, and related to the likely new British approaches to farming and fishing, respectively. 

It is clear that there are a range of international (as opposed to European) conventions to protect wildlife, from the CITES Convention to the Bern Convention and beyond, in addition to UK national measures such as the system of SSSIs and ASSIs. These would provide some continuing degree of protection to British wildlife. However, the EU Birds and Habitats Directives are stronger in many regards. First, they provide stricter protections for Natura 2000 sites against development than do nationally-designated areas; and second, they also facilitate LIFE funding for conservation measures. Again, the EU’s regulations on Wildlife Trade and Invasive Alien Species offer stronger protections than the CITES convention. 

Some have suggested, conversely, that the removal of the UK from the CAP regime will promote greater greening of agriculture. Hence, the Government’s White Paper suggests that the removal of CAP from the UK affords an opportunity for ‘new better and more efficient’ farming policies for a ‘cleaner, healthier environment’. It is, however, rather unclear why this should be the case, when (for example) pigs and poultry in the UK receive the least CAP funding and yet are highly intensive. 

The environmental aspects of the CAP have been legitimately criticised from a variety of angles. Nonetheless, as the dust settles, it is unclear whether the funding available through CAP for practices ‘beneficial to climate and the environment’ – which amounts to almost a third of direct payments to farmers- will come from after 2020.

Both the Scottish and Welsh governments look likely to campaign for significant subsidies to be retained by farmers, especially those farming marginal land, who are the most dependent on subsidy; yet this approach may not persist in England. This could have a variety of environmental impacts. If the removal of subsidy leads to marginal and smaller farms becoming unviable, this will clearly lead to the creation of some larger farms, which has been linked to a reduction in biodiversity and increased specialisation, as well as a reduction in the labour force necessary to engage in labour-intensive conservation measures. Subsidy removal could also lead to the abandonment of land and reduction in livestock numbers. This could in theory lead to some rewilding and reduction in methane emissions. Equally, it could lead to the development of relatively undiverse scrubland and not result in any emissions reductions if British consumers simply import meat from other countries. 

When it comes to the marine environment, the UK has led the way in developing Marine Conservation Zones. Although hailed as a significant step forward, in practice they are weaker in protecting against development than the Natura 2000 system. Again, international conventions do apply, with the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North East Atlantic (OSPAR) viewed as having been significant, especially when compared to the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas. In addition, the UK Government states in its White Paper that its new approach to fisheries will ‘want to…deliver a cleaner, healthier and more productive marine environment’, which is encouraging. These may however be over-ambitious aims if the political pressure to allow a more permissive approach in the short term following Brexit overcomes the need to preserve fish stocks over the long term. The fact that research has shown that the UK already has a relatively high average tonnage above scientific advice is therefore rather worrying.

To conclude, environmental issues received a relatively low profile in the referendum debate, despite the efforts of politicians, NGOs and individuals from across the political spectrum, from the Greener UK coalition to Stanley Johnson to Mary Creagh MP. Now that the Brexit negotiations have begun, they are continuing to receive little apparent attention from government, with important issues like environmental quality and waste management not even being mentioned in the government’s White Paper on Brexit. Now is surely the time for those concerned about the UK’s environment and climate change to mobilise, for the sake of animals, our planet and our health and that of our children. 

Isolating the US from green policies would make it less competitive by @marintoironi

We have seen with astonishment a recent resolution from American government, announcing its commitment ditch its Climate Change Action Plan.

After COP21 the world became a block against climate change as never before. That includes not only policies but also the consolidation of the concept of global leadership that emerges as a solid and stable pillar that marks the beginning of an effective interconnected system of joint action. However, this is not suitable for anti-globalist forces that see in this kind of initiatives a threat for their isolationist strategy that helps them to boost a far right agenda. Surprisingly climate change action has become dangerous from a nationalist political perspective.




Trump makes America an isolated Nation not only on political and foreign affairs terms but also regarding green policies and a world that is moving towards a joint action focus.

The U.S. is not rich enough in natural resources to be self-sustaining in future decades. Isolate US from global green policies in addition to not investing on innovation is an explosive combination that would make the U.S. less competitive and no resilient. Indeed, green policies are part of being resilient at national level but are not enough if is it not in conjunction with global action and cooperation: that is the only resilient way out. That goes directly in relation to a global and safe system of international relations…. not multiple-selective-bilateral relations. Even if there were political will for investing in green energies like solar or wind, they’re will not being enough if is not under good and healthy international relations. It´s for this reason the imperative for generating a new trend and a new culture among American people: to reduce individual consumption, invest in green clean energies and above all on innovation.Taking in account that US is the country that spends more in energy than the rest of the world. Americans constitute 5% of the world’s population but consume 24% of the world’s energy.

If there is a boycott from US to a global joint action by cancelling international agreements this could only be translated in loneliness in resilient terms.

That´s not good news for American people although good for those American industries that are not willing to invest in clean energies. Paradoxically one of the main argumentations for this switch in American focus was “recovering our jobs” however it doesn´t seem to include the ones generated by clean energies.“8.1 million renewable energy jobs that exist globally, 3.5 million are in China, compared to less than one million in the U.S.”.*China will invest £292bn in renewable power by 2020, which means new and more employment at national level. Investing in renewables is it also part of a growth strategy.

This “break” with the rest of the world is it also a break within America as it goes against the will of many citizens that have seen in climate change action a priority in the political agenda. Which represents a stronger political failure worst than the investment in itself. Going back in time and loosing all the work done at Educational level, making citizens aware of their commitment with the environment, means literally destroying an emerging American green culture as well as divided a community of ideas and potential. Joint action is the way out at global and national level.

US will become weaker and this lack of investment and sensibility towards the new challenges would make it vulnerable concerning the most important aspect of a society: Education.

Cooperation will become the only way for surviving and become resilient from a world hit by multiple crises. Joint action represents the way out that US will not have if there continue in this line of isolation and “personal” foreign affairs relations. No commitment with international agreements in addition with no solidarity is generating a negative spiral. This is not only about a unilateral anti-global focus it will generate an anti-US boycott against American products and no cooperation in times of crises.

That is the devastating impact of Trump´s anti-green policies that are not just focusing in destroying this industry but the impact that creates: becoming not competitive. Not even their allies are in line with this focus. Russia -despite their intention to have a good relation with US- has developed a strong investment in clean energies, e.g. bio fuels.

Saying no to investment in clean energies means saying no to sustainability in the medium term and saying yes to profits to private interest in the short term.

In terms of competitiveness, the development of clean energies has become part of a modern industrial and commercial way of living and producing. US will become an outsider that even there new and bilateral alliances will not accompanied them.

The only basis to explain this resistance to be out of a green global world is because of a short-term vision on financial investment. There is not a logical or visionary reason that could support a decision that will leave US behind on new technologies. Hence, more vulnerable for facing a world submerged in multiple crises. An unjustified denial for investing in innovation completes this stage of chaos in which short-termism is leading the way without vision and a smart strategy able to make US resilient.

 

*http://bit.ly/2jd6rSl

*Surrealist picture: Hossein Zare